Saturday, May 26, 2012

quick salad fix

Whenever we're having pasta at home, we always try to have a salad to go with it. A nice green salad is enough to nudge your vegetarian pasta dinner from lovely to amazing. And making salad is not at all a problem especially now that we have lots of readymade dressings available in supermarkets. Two of my favorites are Dizon Farms Mango Vinaigrette and Kewpie Deep-Roasted Sesame Seed Dressing.

I use the Dizon Farms Mango Vinaigrette for arugula (pictured above) and other green leaves. One easy recipe is to get a bunch of greens, tear them to pieces, and dump them in a bowl. I add pine nuts and candied peanuts, and drizzle the whole thing with mango vinaigrette. I throw in a pinch of salt sometimes to get everything to taste just right. By the way, pine nuts and candied peanuts are also available in the supermarket.

The Kewpie Deep-Roasted Sesame Seed Dressing is very tasty, and it goes fabulously with fresh tomatoes and leafy greens. Aside from salads, this dressing goes well with grilled tofu and vegetable skewers.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


I have always loved embutido. And so you can just imagine how happy I was when I finally learned how to make a vegetarian version of this classic meat loaf. I must admit I had some trepidation putting in an embutido recipe because the embutido is not really simple fare. But everyone has to celebrate every now and then, right? So now you have a recipe for those special meals.

The recipe I am uploading is a simpler version of the one I use for my Christmas embutido, but the taste is practically the same. The long list of ingredients may seem daunting, but trust me, it's very easy to make.

My vegetarian embutido calls for the following.

1 can Country Vegefoods Ve-G-Burger
1/4 cup pickle relish
1/4 cup tomato sauce
2 raw eggs
1 cup grated vegetarian cheddar cheese (I use Tillamook)
1/2 cup minced red bell pepper
1/2 cup minced green bell pepper
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup minced carrots
1/2 cup minced onions
1 cup bread crumbs
3 boiled eggs
3 pieces Vegefoods Ve-G-Choplets or any vegetarian sausage
aluminum foil for wrapping
water for steaming

(01) Mix all the ingredients thoroughly except for the boiled eggs and choplets. If the mixture is too soft, add more bread crumbs.

(02) Season with salt and pepper.

(03) Slice boiled eggs into wedges and slice the choplets into halves lengthwise.

(04) Cut aluminum foil into sheets long enough to wrap your embutido roll.

(05) Place one sheet of aluminom foil flat on a table.

(06) Scoop some of the mixture onto the aluminum foil and flatten to a rectangle.

(07) Arrange boiled egg wedges and choplet halves near one edge of the rectangle (you want to have a bit of egg and choplet in every embutido slice)

(08) Roll embutido and make sure the eggs and choplets are completely covered by "meat" mixture.

(09) Secure the tinfoil by twisting the edges.

(10) Place the foil-wrapped rolls in a steamer and cook for 30 minutes.

(11) Cool the steamed rolls before storing in the freezer.

Most people serve the embutido like cold cuts. Although I like the embutido served that way, I prefer it steamed and then fried(as in the photo above). And I eat it either in a sandwich or paired with steamed rice. Oh and don't forget the catsup.

I buy my Country Vegefoods stuff from Assad's Mini Mart on UN Avenue in Manila. But you can try looking for Country Vegefoods products in large supermarkets. Or you can visit Country Vegefoods at 161 Luna Mencias Street, San Juan, Metro Manila. You may call them at 7244379, 7238614, and 09062228898. You can also look for them on Facebook.

Special thanks must go to Vanjo Merano and his website, It was his embutido recipe that inspired me to make this version.

Monday, February 20, 2012

stir-fried broccoli with tofu and cashews

One of the quickest ways to put together a good dish for unexpected guests is a stir-fry. And a sure way of coming up with consistently great results is having a bottle of Lee Kum Kee Vegetarian Stir-Fry Sauce in your pantry.

This recipe calls for the following.

One large head of broccoli
Five cloves of garlic
One block of frozen tofu
A fistful of roasted cashews
Lee Kum Kee Vegetarian Stir-Fry Sauce
Vegetable oil for frying tofu and for sauteing

(01) Thaw the frozen tofu and cut into cubes.

(02) Heat vegetable oil in a pan and deep fry the tofu cubes until completely cooked. You can tell because bubbles will stop coming out of the cubes.

(03) Remove the tofu from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.

(04) Cut the broccoli head into florets and peel and cut the stalk into sticks.

(05) Peel the garlic and coarsely chop.

(06) Heat a little oil in a pan and saute garlic only until fragrant.

(07) Once the garlic turns fragrant, add the cashews and saute for about a minute.

(08) Add the broccoli and turn the heat on high. Stir-fry the broccoli until it turns bright green. It helps to maintain the vegetable's crunch if you throw in a dash of water every now and then to get a nice steam going.

(09) Add the tofu cubes and enough Lee Kum Kee Vegetarian Stir-Fry Sauce to lightly coat everything.

(10) Cook for about a minute and remove from heat. Serve with steamed rice.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

review: likha diwa's malai kofta

Since I resigned from teaching at the University of the Philippines Diliman, I have not been frequenting the campus, and so I have not kept tabs with the changes in one of my former regular hangouts, Likha Diwa Restaurant on CP Garcia Avenue. Yesterday I had errands to run on campus, so I grabbed the chance to drop by Likha Diwa to see how they've been faring. I had hoped to see artworks on the walls because Likha Diwa doubles as a gallery space, but they were in between exhibits, so I turned my attention to their menu. Not much had changed, but they did add a few new items to their food list. I decided to forego my regular order of vegetarian palabok and goto and try out one of their new offerings. I ordered their malai kofta.

I'm a sucker for Indian cuisine, and malai kofta is one of my favorites. To those not familiar, malai kofta is deep fried dumplings of grated vegetables served with a rich thick sauce of tomatoes, cashews, cottage cheese, and a whole lot of spices like cumin, cardamom, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, chili, and coriander. I think kofta means fried ball of something edible. And malai means cheese.

So with my head filled with many happy memories of malai kofta, I looked forward to tasting Likha Diwa's version. When it finally came, it was five balls in sauce served in a shallow white ceramic bowl and topped with a fresh coriander leaf. I sniffed the steam from the dish and was surprised that it didn't smell at all like the malai koftas I've had in the past. The scent should have warned me not to expect much. The sauce was too mild, and I could only taste hints of ginger and coriander and not much else. The balls themselves were too soft; I felt like I was eating baby food. Lika Diwa served the malai kofta with pita bread cut into quarters. Overall, it was a largely disappointing meal. I should've ordered my regular.

In a scale of one to five, with five being highest, I am giving Likha Diwa's malai kofta a two.

Friday, July 1, 2011

basic bean fritter recipe

Everybody loves fried food. And one of the difficulties of shifting to ovo-lacto vegetarianism is looking for something fried to go with your breakfast of garlic rice and coffee. Here's an easy, basic recipe for bean fritters. the possibilities of this recipe are limited only by the variety of beans you can find.

1 cup boiled beans
1 large onion
1 egg
3 tablespoons cornstarch
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
vegetable oil for frying

(01) Mash the beans. if using mung bean (monggo), you need not mash.

(02) Cube the onion and add to the beans.

(03) Add egg, cornstarch, salt, and pepper.

(04) Mix thoroughly.

(05) Heat vegetable oil in a pan.

(06) Spoon the mixture into the pan to form fritters. Use about a spoonful of the mixture per fritter. Lower the heat. Fry until the fritters holds their shape. Flip them over to cook the other side.

(07) Remove the fritters from the pan and let them rest on a bed of paper towels to absorb excess oil.

It is best to cook one fritter first, so you can check for taste. this way, you can adjust the remainder of your mixture before cooking in batches. If you want to make things more interesting, you may want to experiment with other spices. Sometimes I add cumin, curry powder, cayenne, garlic, or chives. To make your fritter extra crunchy, you may want to add breadcrumbs.

In our kitchen, we often use this recipe for garbanzos, monggo, kidney beans, guisantes, cardiz, and balinswek (Yes, I'm using the Ilocano names of some of the beans; more information on these beans in future posts). But feel free to use any kind of edible bean. When I'm feeling lazy or I'm pressed for time, I use canned beans.

image courtesy of

Sunday, June 26, 2011

philippine spinach (talinum fruticosum) salad

Meet the Philippine Spinach (Talinum fruticosum). It is also called Ceylon spinach, Fame flower, Potherb Fameflower, Surinam Purslane, Sweetheart, and Waterleaf. It is cultivated as a leafy vegetable in Africa and South and Southeast Asia.

In the Philippines, it goes by the name 'talinum,' and is often dismissed as a weed. Because of this, talinum is practically impossible to buy in the country. So you don't have much choice but to grow it on your own. The good news is that talinum is easy to grow and propagate via seed or cutting, and it doesn't need that much space. It likes a lot of sun, though. I have seen talinum growing happily in recycled water bottles hanging from the kitchen window grilles of a friend's 14th floor apartment.

Talinum is a tropical herbaceous perennial plant rich in vitamin A and C, calcium, iron, and dietary fiber. The young leaves and stalks are used raw or blanched in salads. They are also cooked in a variety of ways just like spinach. In our kitchen, talinum is often used in salads, stir-fried greens, sinigang, and fried rice.

This is one recipe for talinum salad.

3 cups raw talinum
2 to 3 ripe tomatoes
2 shallots
water for blanching
salt to taste

(01) Pick young talinum shoots from your garden. The stalk should be easy to pinch off. If there's some resistance, it may already be too old. So move up the stalk until it breaks off easily.

(02) Wash the talinum thoroughly and remove any flowers and seeds. If some of the stalks are too hard, remove the hard portions. Detach the leaves from these hard portions. You can still use the leaves for this recipe.

(03) Boil enough water in a pot to blanche the talinum. You have to be ready with tongs or a slotted spoon to fish out the talinum as soon as they wilt.

(04) Remove the talinum from the water and dump them in a bowl of cool water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

(05) Cube the ripe tomatoes. Set aside.

(06) Peel the shallots and slice thinly. Set aside.

(07) Mix the blanched talinum, tomatoes, and shallots in a bowl. Season with salt.

We often pair this talinum salad with chickpea or mung bean fritters. It also goes well with vegetarian barbecue. And it is a great way to make boiled eggs exciting.

By the way, according to most of what i've read, Talinum fruticosum and Talinum triangulare are one and the same.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

microwaved saba

One of the most noticeable changes when you shift to vegetarianism is the shorter time lapse between a meal and hunger pangs. So between meals, one tends to look for snacks. Nuts are always a good option. And boiled camote and saba are both nutritious and filling options. The problem with boiling, though, is that it's impractical to do it in small batches, so the tendency is to cook several pieces in one go. So what happens is you get stuck with more than enough boiled camote and bananas than you want to eat. And though boiled camote and bananas can keep, they don't taste very nice when not freshly cooked. the simplest solution to this is to microwave the banana. (NOTE microwaving camote has, so far, been an unsuccessful enterprise.)

1 ripe saba banana
1 fork
microwave oven

(01) Wash the saba and pierce the skin with a fork. I like to pierce it once on each side.

(02) Place the pierced saba in the microwave and cook on regular setting for a minute.

(03) Allow the saba to cool for about another minute before peeling.

I have microwaved up to five pieces of saba in one batch using the same setting and cooking for one minute.

Microwaved saba has the same texture as the boiled version, but the taste is sweeter.
photo by Carole Cancler